Five tips for writing perfect tech support emails

Written by on March 19, 2013

‘What’s the big deal with technical support emails?’, I hear you ask. Aren’t they simple? In theory, and yet many agents manage to make a substantial mess of them. They’re always too long, boring or just downright confusing.

As someone in tech support, I’ve had my fair share of support conversations ranging from the terrible to occasionally hilarious. And while I’m sure everyone has, at some point or the other, quibbled over phrasing so that they don’t sound too apologetic or aggressive, it still doesn’t account for some of the mind-boggling ways in which some people mess up.

So here’s a curated list of points to remember when you’re composing that great support response:

1. Examine the problem from every point of view

I know, I know, this is about as obvious as it gets. But you’d be surprised at the number of times customers call tech support and the guys at the other end just refuse to listen.

I’ve seen reps who just assume that customers know as much about their products/space as they do. And when they build on this assumption, all hell breaks loose. The easiest way to get it right is by reading over the complaint, over and over again. Three to four iterations later, you’ll get a clear picture of the situation. Try it and you’ll be able to see for yourself just how often your initial assumptions can end up being wrong.

2. Try the solution out yourself

The next time you’re typing a somewhat ambiguous reply, don’t validate the solution because you tried it out three months ago or someone on your developer team explained it to you. Do it yourself, see the result with your own eyes and confirm that it’s working before you hit that send button. Even the slightest missteps can turn a satisfied customer into an irate one.

3. Put yourself in their shoes

Every customer you speak to has a genuine problem. To them, the littlest of glitches could mean a critical issue that can cause bottlenecks. It’s never okay for you to take them lightly, even if the fix is already on the way.

So try to see the world from their eyes. Put your two-year-old canned responses away and get personal with them. Understand what they’re going through and try to make your apologies as personal as possible. Make them a promise – that you are personally looking into the issue, and you’ll follow through until everything’s okay.

4. Check for grammatical errors

While it’s impossible for you to make sure that every email’s perfect before you shoot ’em out, especially when you have dozens queuing up for your attention every time you look, you need to at least try. Make it a point to go through every reply at least once before sending it. If you don’t trust yourself to spot all the errors, trust in a tool like MS Word (the Spell Checker in MS Word can be a godsend or a grammar nazi, depending on your point of view) or Grammarly to spot them for you.

5. Think twice before saying no

There’s not a user in the world who, if asked what features they’d like to see added to their product, says that the product is absolutely perfect and there is nothing you can do to improve it. But as much as you’d like to oblige them all, you can’t put every request in your roadmap. All you can do is understand the client’s problem to the best of your ability and suggest workarounds based on what you know.

And even if you cannot give the feature to them, make sure you never say a hard “no”. Check with your project manager if something’s being planned, and keep them in the loop. In the meantime, they’ll appreciate whatever you can do for them.

You can take a look at some sample email templates to understand how you can use these pointers and write that perfect support email.

Your turn

Nobody’s perfect so go on, tell me what I’ve missed out! What might seem like an obvious tip to you might just be the missing piece of the puzzle somebody else needs to turn their tech support email game around, so share away!

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